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Sun Safety: Let’s Talk About Rays

14 Aug

Sunscreen.

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We think we’re protecting ourselves when we slather up with SPF 30+, but did you know that most sunscreens only protect against UVB rays and leave us open to damage caused by UVA rays?

Wait, what? Let’s backtrack. Before we talk about what we need to be protected from, let’s define the different types of rays.

 

The sun is the earth’s source of light and energy. In order to provide us with the things we need to survive, the sun lets off UV radiation as a part of the light spectrum that shines down on earth. These UV rays are classified by length in three categories: UVA, UVB, and UVC.

 

UVA:

The longest of the waves, these are divided further into two categories (UVAI and UVAII). These waves account for 95% of the UV rays that reach the earth’s surface, and thus we are exposed to these rays often. UVA rays penetrate the skin more deeply than UVB rays, and contribute to pre-mature aging and wrinkling. It was not suspected until recently that UVA rays were harmful beyond the aesthetic, but it is now understood that UVA rays damage the middle (basal & squamous) layer of the skin and may even initiate skin cancer.

UVB:

These are the medium sized rays. They mostly reach the outer layers of our skin, and are the primary cause for sunburn and sunspots. All sunscreens provide UVB protection, most pretty adequately. Its intensity, unlike the constant UVA rays, changes depending on season and location.

UVC:

These rays are the shortest. So short, in fact, that most of them don’t even penetrate the earth’s atmosphere. As of now, no studies have pointed to UVB rays as a problem for our skin.

 

Because UVB rays and not UVA rays cause the visible damage to our skin, it was long thought that UVA rays were not harmful to us. In light of recent discoveries, UVA rays may be even MORE harmful for us than UVB rays and most sunscreens don’t protect against them! So read carefully, my friends, and when you go out to buy sunscreen make sure you’re getting one with UVAI, UVAII, and UVB protection to keep your skin safe and youthful for years to come!

Skin Cancer Prevention

15 May

May is Skin Cancer Prevention/Awareness Month

Skin cancer is a rapidly growing problem in the United States with over 3.5 million new cases diagnosed every year, and in honor of skin cancer awareness month here are some tips to help you stay skin-healthy during the upcoming summer months!

1. Wear Sunscreen Everyday

Most of us use sunscreen at the beach, but did you know that for true protection you have to wear sunscreen everyday? Think about it- our faces and hands are exposed to the sun even when our bodies are covered by clothes. Use a protective sunscreen on your face and hands (at least SPF 20) every day to maintain healthy skin and prevent sun spots and precancerous growths. And remember- the sun’s rays are still strong even when it’s cloudy, so don’t skip sunscreen on rainy days!

2. Try a Hat!

Sun hats aren’t just for the beach. Wear one while walking outside, gardening, shopping, or running errands to protect the skin on the top of your head and your face from extra sun exposure. Plus, a sun hat is a cute addition to any outfit!

3. Stay Out Of The Booth

Sun tanned skin is beautiful, but not at the cost of your health. Even one trip to the tanning booth/bed can increase your chances of getting melanoma (the deadliest form of skin cancer) by a whopping 75%

If you’re really dying for that tanned glow, try a spray tan or at home tanning lotion. For a less permanent fix, mix a touch of bronzer to your daily body cream.

4. Know Your Skin

Did you know that dermatologists recommend that you perform an at-home skin examination once a month? Knowing your body is key to detecting any illness early, and keeping track of your moles, birthmarks, skin tags, and sun spots is no exception! And just like an internal check up, it’s important to have a dermatologist perform an external check up once a year to catch anything you may have missed.

5. Protect Yourself While Driving

We feel safe from the sun’s reach inside our cars, but we’re really not! While your windshield has built in UV protection, the side windows do not and generally let in about 63% of the sun’s rays! There is a solution: Window Film. Window film is endorsed by the Skin Cancer Foundation and blocks out almost 100% of the sun’s rays. Remember- even window film can only protect you when windows are closed, so if you like to cruise with the top/windows down apply sunscreen to your face, neck, and arms before getting into the car.